Critics can question Ken Dorsey’s future as a star in the NFL, but no one can question the heart and dedication that he just could not leave on the field after the devastating 31-24 double-overtime loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
“I take all the responsibility for the loss,” said a teary eyed Dorsey in the locker room after the defeat. “If I didn’t turn the ball over we would have been in great shape to win our second consecutive national championship.”
Dorsey clearly struggled in his last game as a Hurricane. Ohio State’s game plan was to shut down Willis McGahee and force Dorsey to beat them in the air while facing constant pressure. Dorsey was unable to answer the challenge in college football’s largest showcase.
Dorsey threw two costly interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked four times en route to what concluded the ‘Canes’ 34-game win streak. He finished 28-of-43 for 296 yards, but the turnovers overshadowed those statistics.
Dorsey started off well, giving Miami a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Roscoe Parrish.
Dorsey was able to connect on numerous occasions with tight end Kellen Winslow, who finished with a game high 11 receptions for 122 yards.
To give credit where credit is due, Dorsey did rally the ‘Canes from a 10-point deficit to tie the game at 17-17 when Todd Sievers made a 40-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
In the first overtime, Dorsey gave the ‘Canes their first lead since the second quarter, when he found Winslow in the end zone. Yet, the Buckeyes tied the game after the infamous pass interference call that took away the victory for the ‘Canes, and eventually went on to score the game winning touchdown.
Yet, Dorsey still had a chance to lead Miami to tie the game in the second overtime. However, a ferocious hit by Ohio State senior linebacker Matt Wilhem forced Dorsey to the sideline for a play. After backup signal caller Derrick Crudup completed an eight-yard pass to Quadtrine Hill on third down, Dorsey came back to the field with the game – and the national title – in his hands.
Dorsey completed a first-down pass to Winslow, but then faced a fourth and one from the one-yard line. Ohio State linebacker Cie Grant came through the line untouched and Dorsey, unable to overcome the pressure, missed a wide-open Eric Winston in the end zone.
Dorsey dropped to his knees after suffering only his second career collegiate loss and then jogged to the locker room with his head down and helmet still on.
Reporters waited anxiously outside the Miami locker room and when we were finally allowed in, Ken Dorsey sat in his locker with a towel over his head, tears running down his face and 20-some odd tape recorders up in his face.
“I just didn’t get it done today,” Dorsey said in a quiet voice. “Our defense fought incredibly. I turned the ball over and ruined our chance to take home the victory.”
Dorsey took the loss extremely hard, as he was unable to hold in his emotions. Some may say that holding his head down and crying after the devastating loss was a bad example for his young teammates. However, I strongly believe that Dorsey’s emotions after the game showed his unmatched desire to win.
Dorsey concluded his great college career 38-2. His only other loss came in his sophomore season at Washington in 2000.
Critics have questioned his statistics and his overall play. They say Dorsey lacks arm strength, accuracy and mobility. Many believe that anyone with sufficient skills could run the Miami offense because of the immense amount of talent on the team. In addition, how can Dorsey be the best player in the country, when he wasn’t the best player in his backfield?
Ohio State agreed with the former statement, as they put most of its energy on stopping McGahee, who was limited to 67 yards on 20 carries before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Dorsey dismissed the critics who questioned his numbers. He finished the regular season with 3,073 yards and 26 touchdowns, was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards as the nation’s best all-around player and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
Dorsey missed out on winning all of the awards and was unable to win a second consecutive championship. Winning the title was what Dorsey put emphasis on.
The verdict is still out if or how well Dorsey will perform in the next level. But don’t for one second question his heart or desire to win.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.